Guinevere van Seenus by Craig McDean, i-D Magazine, January 1999.
“Amber, Guinevere & Kate Photographed by Craig McDean: 1993-2005” is McDean’s latest book published late last year with Rizzoli. This particular twelve-year span reflects the early portion of McDean’s career which he shot on film before transitioning to digital in 2006. The three women, Amber Valletta, Guinevere van Seenus and Kate Moss, are the models he worked closest with at the time as both friends and creative collaborators. He began his career in 1993 and alongside these women his career and theirs flourished. Together they reinvented the supermodel standard of the 80s in favor of the waif-like grunge look which came to define fashion in the 90s (Moss was most instrumental in this transition). This book traces the evolution of their careers from the days when both McDean and his favored models were emerging talents through to the zeniths of their success.
The beauty of the images come from McDean’s unique conceptual and aesthetic edge––in front of his lens, each girl transforms rather fluidly into a new persona from one shoot to the next. This is perhaps reflective of the symbiotic relationship that McDean had with each of these three women. In the book’s short interviews with McDean as well as Valetta, van Seenus and Moss, all seem to reflect on the very collaborative process that they enjoyed while working together. A deep respect and reverence for the other’s creative abilities and ideas is palpable.
The physical book is quite large (perfect coffee table size) and features 150 very exquisite images in color and black-and-white of contact sheets, outtakes, unpublished and published photos. Glossy, high quality, and free of any extraneous text on the page, the book is all about the pictures. While the images themselves serve as a mini career time capsule, the introduction and interviews reflect on the book’s thematic undercurrent of the bygone era of analog fashion photography. McDean’s transition from film to digital was less a choice and more a necessity to keep up with the new pace of the fashion industry. In the book he laments on the loss of the luxuries associated with analog photography that the high-editing capabilities and immediacy of digital photography have displaced.
This book is not a eulogy for the process of analog photography, however. It’s really more of a celebration of Craig and his longtime favorite models who he still works with presently in the digital idiom (Guinevere and her bleached eyebrows can be spotted in the video below at the book signing in New York). The book’s spirit is perhaps best understood in the closing sentences of McDean’s interview:
“I think that with each one of these women––I don’t want to use the words ‘fall in love with’––but you love them. Some people drift in and out of your life when you’re taking photographs. But these women gave so much to me. Without their contributions, I could never have made these pictures. It’s the constants of working with them and the commitment of the team. They’re great friends.”
All images taken from “Amber, Guinevere & Kate Photographed by Craig McDean: 1993-2005,” Rizzoli, 2013.
Amber Valletta by Craig McDean, Harper's Bazaar, February 1995.
Kate Moss by Craig McDean, W Magazine, May 2001.
Guinevere van Seenus by Craig McDean, Harper's Bazaar, May 1996.
Kate Moss by Craig McDean, W Magazine, May 1995.
Jil Sander Amber Valletta by Craig McDean, Jil Sander F/W 1995.